Beat the Summer Heat: Cool Camping Spots in Texas

July 7, 2024
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Summer in Texas can be scorching, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your camping adventures. With a little planning, you can find cool and refreshing spots to pitch your tent or park your RV. Whether it’s along the water, up in the mountains, or in shady forests, Texas offers diverse locations where you can escape the heat and enjoy the great outdoors. Here are some of the best places to beat the summer heat while camping in Texas.

1. Guadalupe River State Park

Location: Spring Branch, TX

Why it’s cool: The Guadalupe River is a favorite among Texans for its clear, cold waters. Guadalupe River State Park offers excellent opportunities for swimming, tubing, and fishing. The river’s constant flow keeps the water temperature refreshingly cool, making it a perfect spot to beat the heat.

Activities: In addition to water activities, the park has over 13 miles of hiking and biking trails. Bird watching and picnicking are also popular here.

Campgrounds: The park features numerous campsites, including sites with electricity and water. Some sites are located right along the river, offering easy access for a quick dip.

Reserve A Campsite →

2. Big Bend National Park

Location: Brewster County, TX

Why it’s cool: Big Bend National Park, with its higher elevation and varied terrain, provides respite from the intense summer heat. The Chisos Mountains, in particular, offer cooler temperatures and stunning vistas.

Activities: Hiking is a major draw here, with trails ranging from easy walks to strenuous backcountry routes. The park also offers river trips along the Rio Grande, stargazing, and wildlife viewing.

Campgrounds: Big Bend has several campgrounds, including the Chisos Basin Campground, which is situated at a higher elevation and often cooler than the desert floor. There are also backcountry campsites for those looking for a more rugged experience.

Camping At Big Bend →

3. Garner State Park

Location: Concan, TX

Why it’s cool: Garner State Park is another excellent destination along the Frio River, known for its cold and crystal-clear waters. It’s a popular spot for swimming, tubing, and paddle boating.

Activities: In addition to water activities, the park offers hiking, miniature golf, and evening dances during the summer.

Campgrounds: The park has numerous campsites with options for electricity and water. There are also cabins and screened shelters available for rent.

Find A Campsite At Garner State Park →

4. Lost Maples State Natural Area

Location: Vanderpool, TX

Why it’s cool: Lost Maples is a hidden gem in the Texas Hill Country, offering shaded trails and cool swimming holes. The scenic Sabinal River and the dense foliage provide a natural canopy, making it significantly cooler.

Activities: Hiking is the main attraction here, with trails that lead to scenic overlooks and natural springs. Bird watching is also popular, as the area is home to the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler.

Campgrounds: Lost Maples offers campsites with water and electricity. The sites are well-shaded, providing additional relief from the summer sun.

Lost Maples Camping →

5. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Location: Canyon, TX

Why it’s cool: Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro Canyon offers a unique landscape and slightly cooler temperatures due to its elevation. The park’s rugged beauty and striking rock formations provide plenty of shaded areas.

Activities: The park is ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. There’s also a theater offering musical performances during the summer.

Campgrounds: Palo Duro Canyon has campsites ranging from primitive to those with full hookups. Some campsites are situated in the canyon itself, providing spectacular views and cooler temperatures.

Palo Duro Canyon Camping →

6. Inks Lake State Park

Location: Burnet, TX

Why it’s cool: Inks Lake State Park is perfect for water lovers, with its constant-level lake ensuring the water is always available for swimming, boating, and fishing.

Activities: Besides water activities, the park has nine miles of hiking trails, including a scenic overlook at the Devil’s Waterhole.

Campgrounds: The park offers a variety of campsites, including some right along the lake for easy access to water activities. There are also cabins available for those who prefer a bit more comfort.

Reserve A Site →

7. Davy Crockett National Forest

Location: Near Lufkin, TX

Why it’s cool: This national forest offers plenty of shade under its towering pine trees, as well as access to the cool waters of Ratcliff Lake.

Activities: Hiking, fishing, and boating are popular activities. The Four C National Recreation Trail is a favorite among hikers.

Campgrounds: The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area offers campsites with water and electricity, as well as primitive sites. The dense forest provides ample shade, keeping temperatures lower.

Camping Info →

8. Lake Livingston State Park

Location: Livingston, TX

Why it’s cool: Lake Livingston is one of the largest lakes in Texas, providing a vast area for water recreation. The lake’s size and depth help keep the water cool, even in the heat of summer.

Activities: Swimming, boating, and fishing are the main attractions. The park also offers hiking trails and bird watching opportunities.

Campgrounds: The park has numerous campsites, including those with water and electricity, as well as screened shelters and cabins.

Camping Details →

9. Pedernales Falls State Park

Location: Johnson City, TX

Why it’s cool: Pedernales Falls State Park is known for its scenic waterfalls and natural swimming areas. The cool waters of the Pedernales River are perfect for beating the summer heat.

Activities: Besides swimming, the park offers hiking, bird watching, and horseback riding. The falls themselves are a beautiful spot for photography and picnicking.

Campgrounds: The park features campsites with water and electricity, as well as primitive campsites. Many sites are well-shaded and close to the river.

Reserve A Campsite →

10. Balmorhea State Park

Location: Toyahvale, TX

Why it’s cool: Balmorhea State Park is home to the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. The pool’s clear, cool waters are a perfect way to escape the summer heat.

Activities: Swimming and snorkeling in the spring-fed pool are the main attractions. The park also offers picnicking and bird watching.

Campgrounds: The park has campsites with water and electricity, as well as a group camp. There are also motel-style accommodations available.

Find A Campsite →

Tips for Staying Cool While Camping

Even at these cooler spots, it’s essential to take some precautions to stay comfortable:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  • Use Shade: Set up your campsite in shaded areas whenever possible.
  • Dress Appropriately: Wear light, breathable clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Take Breaks: Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day.
  • Cool Off: Take advantage of swimming opportunities to cool down regularly.

Wrapping Up!

Texas offers a variety of camping spots that can help you beat the summer heat. Whether you prefer rivers, lakes, mountains, or forests, there’s a cool camping destination waiting for you. Remember to plan ahead, pack appropriately, and make the most of the natural resources available to stay comfortable and enjoy your camping trip.

For more information on firewood sources and local fire restrictions, visit our crowd-sourced map and fire resources at Happy camping!

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